Paul Walker's Last Completed Film "Brick Mansions" is Flawed, But Enjoyable

Paul Walker, David Bell, and RZA in "Brick Mansions"

Paul Walker’s last completed film “Brick Mansions” is a remake of “District B13,” a French actioner written and produced by Luc Besson and starring Parkour founder David Bell, both of whom return with the same duties for the American version.

Walker takes over the sidekick role from Cyril Raffaelli, a martial artist who also choreographed the action sequences for the original.

Having seen the French version, it’s frustrating to see Walker in a fight scene because his skill level is nowhere remotely close to Raffaelli’s, and it’s hard for me not to compare.

In those sequences, Raffaelli impresses in “District B13,” while Walker just gets by in “Brick Mansions.”

However, what the late actor lacks in physical skill, he makes up for in personality and charm. He adds a much needed lightness to the proceedings. He’s the comic relief to Bell, who provides the thrills.

In addition to the Parkour, which is just the stunts one sees in Jackie Chan films, Bell actually fights a bit more in “Brick Mansions.” Perhaps, it’s because Besson realizes that Walker can’t cut it in the fighting department. In the original, Bell doesn’t fight; he just runs away from his pursuers doing cool stunts.

Bell’s Parkour-infused fighting style looks cool, but doesn’t seem practical. It’s a lot of wasted movements to do simple things like punching and kicking. It’s useful when he’s running up walls and jumping through tight spaces to escape from a bunch of people -- just not when he has to take someone down.

Walker shares the same kind of chemistry with Bell as he does with Vin Diesel in “The Fast and the Furious” films. He’s a good everyman -- except much better looking, of course -- to his badass partners.

RZA is better here as a heavy than he is in Tony Jaa’s “Tom Yum Goong 2” -- mainly, because he doesn’t have to show off his (lack of) martial arts skills. Sure, he’s a huge fan of the fighting arts, but that doesn’t make him an expert when putting it to use.

“Brick Mansions” has a nice pace. There’s never a dull moment, even though it sticks closely to the original’s plot. The Relativity release is more sanitized, going from the original’s R rating down to PG-13.

For Walker, it’s not a bad film to finish his career on. It’s entertaining. It’s fun. The Parkour sequences are thrilling. It won’t win any awards, but that’s not what he’s known for anyway.

(Although if you’ve seen “District B13,” there’s really no reason to see “Brick Mansions” unless you’re a Walker fan. As a fan of martial arts films, I prefer the original.)

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